Roger Taylor (Queen drummer)

Roger Meddows Taylor OBE (born 26 July 1949) is an English musician, songwriter and singer. He achieved international fame as the drummer for the rock band Queen.[1] As a drummer, Taylor was recognised early in his career for his unique sound[2] and was voted the eighth-greatest drummer in classic rock music history in a listener poll conducted by Planet Rock in 2005.[3] He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001 as a member of Queen.

Roger Taylor

Taylor performing with Queen + Adam Lambert in December 2017
Roger Meddows Taylor

(1949-07-26) 26 July 1949 (age 74)
King's Lynn, Norfolk, England
Alma materEast London Polytechnic
  • Musician
  • songwriter
  • singer
  • record producer
Years active1968–present
Sarina Potgieter
(m. 2010)
Children5, including Rufus
Musical career
  • Drums
  • vocals
  • guitar
Member of
Formerly of

As a songwriter, Taylor composed at least one track on every Queen album, and often sang lead vocals on his own compositions. He wrote or co-wrote three UK number ones ("These Are the Days of Our Lives",[4] "Innuendo" and "Under Pressure") and wrote a further five major hits ("Radio Ga Ga", "A Kind of Magic", "Heaven for Everyone", "Breakthru", and "The Invisible Man").[5] He has collaborated with such artists as Eric Clapton, Roger Waters, Roger Daltrey, Robert Plant, Phil Collins, Genesis, Jimmy Nail, Kansas, Elton John, Gary Numan, Shakin' Stevens, Foo Fighters, Al Stewart, Steve Vai, Yoshiki, Cyndi Almouzni, and Bon Jovi. As a producer, he has produced albums by Virginia Wolf, Jimmy Nail, and Magnum.

As a singer, Taylor employs a falsetto vocal range. During the 1980s, in addition to his work with Queen, he formed a parallel band known as the Cross, in which he was the lead singer and rhythm guitarist. During the early 1980s, Taylor was also a panellist on the UK quiz show Pop Quiz, hosted by Mike Read. In 2014, he appeared in The Life of Rock with Brian Pern as himself.

Early life Edit

Roger Meddows Taylor was born on 26 July 1949 at West Norfolk & Lynn Hospital in King's Lynn, Norfolk. The new maternity ward was opened by Princess Elizabeth (the future queen, Elizabeth II), where she was introduced to 16 new mothers including Winifred Taylor, his mother. Taylor first lived at 87 High Street in King's Lynn and later moved to Beulah Street in the town. Taylor's first school was Rosebury Avenue school.[6] Taylor moved to Truro, Cornwall, in south west England, with his mother Winifred, father Michael and younger sister Clare. When he was seven years old, he and some friends formed his first band, the Bubblingover Boys, in which he played the ukulele. He briefly attended Truro Cathedral School; at the age of 13, he joined Truro School as a day boy.[7] At the age of 15, Taylor became a member of the Reaction, a semi-professional rock band formed mainly of boys from Truro School. Taylor had originally learned guitar, but became a drummer when he realised he had a more natural aptitude for it. Taylor taught himself to tune his drums, inspired by Keith Moon of the Who because of the "great drum sounds" on the early Who records.[8] Another key influence on Taylor was drummer Mitch Mitchell of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, who Taylor stated was his early role model.[9]

In 1967, Taylor went to London to study dentistry at the London Hospital Medical College,[10] but he became bored with it and changed to biology obtaining a BSc at East London Polytechnic.[11]

Career Edit

1968–1970: Smile Edit

Taylor met Brian May and Tim Staffell in 1968 after a friend saw an advert for a drummer on a noticeboard at Imperial College. Smile included May on lead guitar, Staffell on lead vocals and bass, and later Taylor on drums. The band lasted for two years before Staffell departed to join Humpy Bong, leaving the band with a catalogue of nine songs.

Smile reunited for several songs on 22 December 1992. Taylor's band the Cross were headliners and he brought May and Staffell on to play "Earth" and "If I Were a Carpenter".[12]

1970s–present: Queen Edit

Taylor (pictured in 2005) has been with Queen since the band's inception

In 1969, Taylor was working with Freddie Mercury at Kensington Market in London (they were sharing a flat at around the same time).[13] Mercury, then known as Farrokh “Freddie” Bulsara, was a fan of Smile. The band split up in 1970. In the same year, Taylor turned down the chance to become drummer for Genesis, which led to Phil Collins joining instead.[14] Bulsara convinced the remaining two members of Smile to continue and he eventually joined the band, which he renamed Queen. In 1971, they recruited bassist John Deacon, before going on to release their self-titled debut album in 1973. Taylor is the third most credited songwriter for the band, usually contributing one or two tracks per album.

1977–present: Solo career Edit

Taylor has had a productive solo career, releasing six albums. His first single was "I Wanna Testify" in 1977, recorded during Queen's sessions for the News of the World album. The A-side, although a cover of the Parliaments song of the same name, was completely different from the original. The B-side was a self-penned song "Turn on the TV".

Taylor onstage in Palermo, Italy, January 1995

Taylor's first solo album, released in 1981, was Fun in Space, on which he performed all vocals and played all instruments aside from about half of the keyboards, which were contributed by engineer David Richards. With Queen still touring heavily and recording at the time of release, Taylor was unable to promote the album to its fullest extent, only appearing on some European TV shows to promote the single, "Future Management", including Top of the Pops. A second single from the album was titled "My Country". The only US single released from the album was "Let's Get Crazy".

Taylor's next solo venture, Strange Frontier, came in June 1984. The three singles from the album were the title track, "Beautiful Dreams" (in Portugal only) and "Man on Fire", the latter becoming a live favourite for him in later years. No attempts to promote the singles were made since Queen was touring to promote The Works, with Taylor not even performing on any TV shows. Strange Frontier included guest appearances by bandmates Freddie Mercury, Brian May and John Deacon. Mercury sang backing vocals on "Killing Time", Deacon remixed the B-side "I Cry For You" and Rick Parfitt co-wrote and played on "It's An Illusion". David Richards, Queen's engineer and producer at the time, also co-wrote two of the tracks. The album includes covers of Bruce Springsteen's "Racing in the Street" and Bob Dylan's "Masters of War".

Taylor (left) in concert with Jeff Beck in May 2013

In 1986, Taylor co-produced Vigilante, the sixth studio album by rock band Magnum.[15] After Queen finished their 1986 Magic Tour, Taylor started a new band, the Cross, which released three albums over their six years of existence. In 1993, the band split up, after performing one final gig at the Gosport Festival.[16]

In 1994, Taylor worked with Yoshiki, drummer and pianist of X Japan and released the song "Foreign Sand" and a reworking of the Cross's "Final Destination". The album Happiness? was "Dedicated to the tasmanian tiger – thylacinus cynocephalus, but most especially... for Freddie". "Nazis 1994" from this album became Taylor's first hit single in England and was followed by two other top 40 UK hits, "Happiness" and "Foreign Sand".

In 1998, Taylor released his fourth solo album Electric Fire.[17] Taylor also performed one of the first Internet-gigs – for which he got a mention in the Guinness Book of World Records.[18] On 11 November 2013, Taylor released the album Fun on Earth,[19] On the same day, Taylor released his compilation album The Lot, which includes all of his work outside of Queen.[20]

In response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, Taylor released a new single "Isolation" on 21 June 2020.[21] The song debuted on the top of the UK iTunes Rock chart.[22] On 7 May 2021, Taylor announced his new solo album, Outsider, which was released on 1 October 2021, and debuted at number three on the UK Albums Chart.[23][24]

The Cross Edit

The Cross were a side project of Taylor's that existed from 1987 to 1993 and released three albums. While still the drummer for Queen, Taylor fronted the Cross as rhythm guitarist and lead vocalist. On its debut release, The Cross incorporated dance influences which they dropped on their remaining two albums.

21st century Edit

Taylor with Queen and Paul Rodgers in 2008

Taylor has appeared along with May for various other events and promotions, including Queen's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001[25] and the "Party at the Palace" in 2002, celebrating the golden jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.[26] In 2004, Taylor, May, and Mike Dixon received the Helpmann Award in Australia for Best Music Direction for the musical We Will Rock You.[27] At the Live Earth concert held at Wembley Stadium in 2007, Taylor opened the show with Taylor Hawkins of Foo Fighters and Chad Smith of Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Taylor and May, performing as Queen, also appeared three times on the American singing contest television show American Idol. The first appearance was on 11 April 2006, during which that week's contestants were required to sing a Queen song. Songs performed included "Bohemian Rhapsody", "Fat Bottomed Girls", "The Show Must Go On", "Who Wants to Live Forever", and "Innuendo". The second time Queen appeared was on the show's season 8 finale in May 2009, performing "We Are the Champions" with finalists Adam Lambert and Kris Allen. The third appearance was during the eleventh season on 25 and 26 April 2012, performing a Queen medley with the six finalists on the first show. The following day, they performed "Somebody to Love" with the Queen Extravaganza band.[28]

Taylor on drums with vocalist Adam Lambert in 2012

In November 2009, Taylor appeared on the reality TV show The X Factor with May as Queen mentoring the contestants and performing "Bohemian Rhapsody". That month Taylor confirmed he was planning to tour with Taylor Hawkins, which Taylor described as a "quick tour".[29] At the 2011 MTV Europe Music Awards on 6 November, Queen received the Global Icon Award, and Taylor and May closed the awards ceremony, with Adam Lambert on vocals, performing "The Show Must Go On", "We Will Rock You", and "We Are the Champions".[30] In 2011, Taylor, along with Steven Tyler and Roger Daltrey, joined the advisory board of Edge Music Network. Taylor performed in the 2012 Summer Olympics closing ceremony in London on 12 August.

In 2013 and 2014, Taylor served as an executive producer of the film Solitary, directed by Sasha Krane. In addition to those duties, he provided original music, including the song "When We Were Young" and three instrumental songs which serve as incidental/background music in the film and during the closing credits. Taylor also appeared as a special guest for Welsh Rock artist Jayce Lewis and his project Protafield providing drums on the track "Wrath".[31][32][33] On 15 November 2014, Taylor joined the charity group Band Aid 30, playing drums alongside current British and Irish pop acts on the latest version of the track "Do They Know It's Christmas?" at Sarm West Studios in Notting Hill, London, to raise money for the 2014 Ebola crisis in Western Africa.[34]

On 5 and 6 September 2015, Taylor, along with Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones, joined Foo Fighters on stage in Milton Keynes to perform a cover of the Queen and David Bowie song "Under Pressure". Taylor released a new single called "Gangsters Are Running This World" on 1 April 2019, and on 8 April released a more rocking version of this song called "Gangsters Are Running This World-Purple Version". Both versions became available for streaming on 8 April 2019.[35] On 10 May 2019 he and Czech Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Čech released a song called "That's Football" which Čech wrote for his retiring football career.[36]

In October 2021, Taylor embarked on a 14-date solo tour (Outsider Tour) in the UK, from 2 to 22 October.[37]

Influences and favourite drummers Edit

Taylor has stated that his early role model as a drummer was Mitch Mitchell of the Jimi Hendrix Experience. He said: "I still think listening to Mitch Mitchell, especially the early stuff with Hendrix, is just fantastic. This fusion of jazz technique and wonderful riffs but with this rolling ferocious attack on the whole kit, it had lots of jazz influences I think. In fact for me he played the kit like a song, it was just wonderful. Total integration into the song. Not just marking time".[9]

Taylor has also expressed great admiration for John Bonham of Led Zeppelin. Speaking of Bonham, Taylor said, "The greatest rock and roll drummer of all time was John Bonham, who did things that nobody had ever even thought possible before with the drum kit. And also the greatest sound out of his drums – they sounded enormous, and just one bass drum. So fast on it that he did more with one bass drum than most people could do with three, if they could manage them. And he had technique to burn and fantastic power and tremendous feel for rock and roll".[9] However, for just sheer technique, Taylor described the jazz and big band drummer Buddy Rich as "the best I've ever seen".[9]

Speaking to Modern Drummer in 1984, Taylor also described Keith Moon, the drummer of the Who, as "absolutely brilliant...he had a total unique style; he didn't owe anyone anything."[8]

Tributes Edit

Taylor drum displayed at the Hard Rock Cafe in Madrid

In 2013, a newly discovered species of the genus Heteragrion (Odonata: Zygoptera) from Brazil was named Heteragrion rogertaylori after Taylor, in honour of his "powerful sound, wonderful lyrics and raspy voice " – one of four Heteragrion flatwing damselflies named after the bandmates, paying tribute to the 40th anniversary of Queen's founding.[38]

In 1999, Taylor became the second living person, other than members of the British Royal Family and Sir Francis Chichester in 1967, to appear on a Royal Mail stamp, being seen behind Freddie Mercury as part of a "Great Britons" issue. This caused controversy as it was an understood rule that the only living people allowed to appear on British stamps could be members of the Royal Family.[39][40]

In 2002, Taylor appeared on the "Twelve Drummers Drumming" Christmas card in the "Twelve Days of Christmas" set sold at Woolworths to raise money for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children – alongside Duran Duran's drummer of the same name.[41]

Taylor was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2020 New Year Honours for services to music.[42] At his investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle in March 2022, Taylor dedicated his OBE to the recently deceased Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins, adding that Hawkins had been a mentor to his own son Rufus.[43]

Discography Edit

Solo albums Edit

Solo live albums Edit

Albums made with the Cross Edit

Year Title UK
1988 Shove It 58
1990 Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know 48
1991 Blue Rock

Portrayal in film Edit

He was portrayed by Ben Hardy in the 2018 film Bohemian Rhapsody.[46] Taylor, along with bandmate Brian May, were creative consultants on the film.

References Edit

  1. ^ Macnab, Geoffrey. "Roger Taylor interview: The Queen drummer has written the soundtrack for British film Solitary". The Independent. Archived from the original on 9 October 2016. Retrieved 6 October 2016.
  2. ^ Rolling Stone – Issue 149 – 12 June 1973
  3. ^ "Zeppelin voted 'ideal supergroup'". BBC News. 10 July 2005. Archived from the original on 21 October 2007. Retrieved 28 January 2008.
  4. ^ "These Are the Days of Our Lives". Bechstein Debauchery. Archived from the original on 17 December 2007. Retrieved 28 January 2008.
  5. ^ "The Invisible Man". Bechstein Debauchery. Archived from the original on 17 December 2007. Retrieved 28 January 2008.
  6. ^ Trevor, Heaton. "Rock Star's Norfolk Childhood". Queen Archives. Eastern Daily Press. Archived from the original on 7 February 2016. Retrieved 19 January 2016.
  7. ^ "Roger". Archived from the original on 3 December 2013. Retrieved 8 April 2012.
  8. ^ a b "Roger Taylor Interview". Queen Zone. Archived from the original on 15 July 2015. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
  9. ^ a b c d "Roger's Drum Master Class (Music Works – BBC World Service, November 28, 1993)". Queen Online. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
  10. ^ "Roger Taylor". Queen official website. Archived from the original on 19 January 2017. Retrieved 15 January 2017.
  11. ^ Rose, Frank. "Heavy Meddows Kid". Queen Archives. Eastern Daily Press. Archived from the original on 16 January 2017.
  12. ^ [1] Archived 8 February 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ "Roger Taylor "I remember"". Reader's Digest. Retrieved 4 March 2020.
  14. ^ "Queen 40th anniversary: 10 things you never knew". The Daily Telegraph. 24 September 2011. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
  15. ^ Patrick Lemieux; Adam Unger (2013). The Queen Chronology: The Recording & Release History of the Band. Across the Board Books. p. 54. ISBN 978-0991984046.
  16. ^ "Roger Taylor". Biography. Archived from the original on 1 March 2018. Retrieved 1 March 2018.
  17. ^ Gregory, Andy (2002). The International Who's Who in Popular Music 2002. Psychology Press. ISBN 9781857431612.
  18. ^ [2] Archived 30 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ "Roger Taylor To Release Solo Album | Rock News | News". Planet Rock. 22 November 2012. Archived from the original on 7 May 2013. Retrieved 27 June 2013.
  20. ^ "Queen's Roger Taylor Talks Solo Work, Hopes Band Will Record With Adam Lambert". Billboard. Archived from the original on 19 May 2018. Retrieved 1 March 2018.
  21. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "Isolation". YouTube. Retrieved 19 August 2020.
  22. ^ "@rogertaylorofficial on Instagram: "Wow! #isolation #number1 #rockchart Link in bio"". Archived from the original on 23 December 2021. Retrieved 19 August 2020.
  23. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Retrieved 24 November 2021.
  24. ^ "Episode 24 (feat. Queen)". 7 May 2021.
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  27. ^ "Past nominees and winners Helpmann Awards". Archived from the original on 20 December 2016. Retrieved 16 December 2016.
  28. ^ "'Somebody to Love' on 'American Idol' – Video". Rolling Stone. 27 April 2012. Archived from the original on 21 January 2015. Retrieved 16 July 2014.
  29. ^ "Queen And Foo Fighters Drummers To Team Up For 2010 Tour". Gigwise. 17 November 2009. Archived from the original on 16 October 2014. Retrieved 16 July 2014.
  30. ^ Penny Newton (6 November 2011). "Katy And Adam Honour Queen! | Queen | News | MTV Australia". Archived from the original on 12 September 2012. Retrieved 16 July 2014.
  31. ^ "Roger Taylor of Queen guest appearances discography". Archived from the original on 9 August 2014. Retrieved 29 September 2014.
  32. ^ "He will, he will, rock you! Jayce Lewis is granted an audience with Queen star". 8 June 2014. Archived from the original on 25 September 2014. Retrieved 29 September 2014.
  33. ^ "Queen drummer Roger Taylor agrees to play on Welsh rocker Jayce Lewis' new album". 28 July 2013. Archived from the original on 10 August 2014. Retrieved 29 September 2014.
  34. ^ "Band Aid 30: One Direction among celebrity line-up". Telegraph. 11 November 2014. Archived from the original on 20 February 2015. Retrieved 11 February 2015.
  35. ^ "'Gangsters Are Running This World' Available Now – Inc. New 'Purple Version'". Archived from the original on 8 April 2019. Retrieved 8 April 2019.
  36. ^ "Out Today! 'That's Football' – Petr Cech ft. Roger Taylor". Archived from the original on 20 May 2019. Retrieved 10 May 2019.
  37. ^ "Queen's Roger Taylor announces 2021 UK solo tour". NME. Retrieved 5 October 2021.
  38. ^ Lencioni, F.A.A. (9 July 2013). "Diagnoses and discussion of the group 1 and 2 Brazilian species of Heteragrion, with descriptions of four new species (Odonata: Megapodagrionidae). Zootaxa 3685 (1): 001–080" (PDF). Zootaxa. Magnolia Press – Auckland, New Zealand. Archived (PDF) from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 26 September 2015.
  39. ^ Rohrer, Finlo (14 October 2008). "The politics of stamps". BBC News. Archived from the original on 12 November 2011. Retrieved 29 October 2011.
  40. ^ Alex Spence. "Royal Mail unveils Beatles album cover stamps (Times Online)". The Times. UK. Retrieved 29 October 2011.
  41. ^ [3] Archived 28 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  42. ^ "No. 62866". The London Gazette (Supplement). 28 December 2019. p. N15.
  43. ^ "Queen drummer Roger Taylor dedicates OBE to Taylor Hawkins". The Independent. Retrieved 6 April 2022.
  44. ^ QueenOnline Message Board :: View topic – Queen / Solos UK & US (Y MORE) Chart History Archived 29 September 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  45. ^ "Charts-Surfer". Archived from the original on 16 December 2008. Retrieved 19 August 2020.
  46. ^ December 2019, Scott Munro (20 December 2019). "Ben Hardy: It would be amazing to work with cast on Bohemian Rhapsody sequel". Classic Rock Magazine. Retrieved 19 November 2020.

External links Edit

  • Roger Taylor at IMDb
  • Queen in Cornwall – includes an extensive description of Roger Taylor's early career
  • – includes most detailed discography of Roger Taylor as a solo artist, member of the Cross, as well as his numerous guest appearances